Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stephen Ambrose

I cannot access History News Network at my work, which has led to a delay in posting an update on the story of the problems with Stephen Ambrose's work on Eisenhower. So here we go...

Hugh Ambrose wrote a thoughtful and interesting piece in response to the affair called: "Eisenhower and My Father, Stephen Ambrose."

Timothy D. Rives, the archivist at the Eisenhower Library who pointed out the original issues, has an equally thoughtful response: "Ambrose and Eisenhower: A View from the Stacks in Abilene." I don't see a terrible number of discrepancies in their accounts, but judge for yourself.

On a related note, Ira Chernus has a very interesting account of a single unconfirmed quotation that Ambrose attributed to Eisenhower, and the ways that quotation has influenced any number of histories of the era.

As always, it is best to get the original source, whether using Ambrose or not. If you are using Ambrose, the safe bet is to not rely on a quotation that cannot be independently confirmed. Too bad it has come to that.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I actually had to think about it, because I used Ambrose for a minor point about Ike in my dissertation. I think I left it in (it was a -minor- point, and not attributed to an interview.